Rob Haden <[log in to unmask]> writes:

> On Thu, 3 Jul 2003 10:47:05 +0200, =?iso-8859-1?Q?J=F6rg=20Rhiemeier?=
> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >I am not an expert on Kartvelian, but I found some information on this
> >in Gamkrelidze's and Ivanov's book, _Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans_.
> >
> >First, the phonology.  PIE, if one accepts glottalic theory (which I do),
> >had a three-way distinction between voiceless, voiced and ejective stops,
> >as does Kartvelian (and other Caucasian languages); and apparently,
> >Kartvelian has an ablaut system similar to that of IE.
> It seems to me that ejective stops can also be called aspirated stops.

No.  Ejective stops are *not* aspirated.  (See Thomas R. Wier's explanation.)

> I've seen some e/o variations in Georgian morphology, particularly in
> affixes, but nothing as seemingly paradigmatic as in PIE.  Can you give any
> examples of Kartvelian Ablaut?

I know too little about Kartvelian to give an example, but Thomas has
already done so.

> Also, regarding Ablaut, my hypothesis is that most of the contrasts in
> vowel quality (e vs. o) were originally contrasts in tone.  It is well-
> noted that vowels did not undergo alternation in the presence of
> a "laryngeal" (?, h, x, etc.).

They did, but *e became *a next to *h2 and *o next to *h3.

>      In certain places, I think that contrasts
> in vowel quality were caused by other (unknown?) factors.

Yes.  There were probably several factors affecting vowel quality.

> >The common points in syntax are SOV order (a frequent pattern that
> >proves nothing and is also shared by Proto-Uralic) and active-stative
> >argument marking.  That is, intransitive subjects are marked like
> >transitive subjects if they are agents (as in 'The man runs'),
> >but like transitive objects if they are not (as in 'The stone falls').
> >Typically, only animate nouns can take agent marking.
> SOV is, apparently, a very ancient (and likely original) word order.  In my
> opinion, the first great split within Nostratic occurred when the southern
> speakers (> Afro-Asiatic) adopted VSO instead of SOV.

Not all Afro-Asiatic languages are VSO: most Cushitic langauges are SOV,
and Chadic languages are SVO.  According to some scholars, the three
branches for which VSO order is typical (Semitic, Berber and Egyptian)
form a distinct subgroup.  Anyway, a shift in word order wasn't the factor
that led to the split between A-A and the rest of Nostratic (assuming
the relationship is real, which might not be the case).

> I've seen people try to prove that Proto-Uralic also had stative verbs, but
> I simply see no evidence for it except for the Hungarian indefinite
> conjugation.  Then again, why would the PU stative paradigm disappear
> everywhere but Hungarian?

If it occurs only in Hungarian (not even in Ob-Ugric?), then it is
most likely a Hungarian innovation.  Unless one can prove that Uralic
is related to some other languages which show something that is
demonstrably cognate to the Hungarian forms.

> >This pattern is partly preserved in Kartvelian languages, and traces
> >of it can be found in IE (active vs. stative verb endings, avoidance
> >of inanimate transitive subjects, syncretism of nominative and
> >accusative in neuters (animates had an agentive case in *-s
> >and an objective case in *-m, later to become nom. and acc.
> >respectively, while inanimates had an unmarked objective case
> >and no agentive case).
> The origin of the animate sigmatic nominative and the nominative-accusative
> syncretism in inanimates is of great interest to me.  My opinion is that
> the former was originally an ergative marker,

Yes; or an agent marker (the difference is that the latter is also used with
intransitive verbs with active semantics, such as "to run").

>       which in turn came from the
> genitive.


>      Syntactically/grammatically, this makes sense: the genitive case
> is the case of origin, and only animate nouns can "originate action" (i.e.,
> perform an action).  The problem lies in reconciling this with the current
> reconstruction of PIE.  As for the nominative-accusative syncretism, it is
> obvious that inanimate nouns could never be grammatical agents, and thus
> never had a true nominative in PIE.


>     When the rules of grammar shifted in
> later times, speakers used the most common case for inanimate nouns -- the
> accusative -- as the nominative as well.  Does this make sense?


>      However,
> it is of interest that this only occurred with thematic inanimates;
> athematic inanimates never had a marked accusative case.  I think the most
> likely reason for this is that the athematic inanimates were an older
> class;

Yes, the thematic nouns are a rather late development.

>       they were root nouns (which later disappeared/became thematized),
> i/u-stems (relatively rare), and s-, r-, and n-stems (which appear to have
> been rather productive at some point in PIE).  Even after the original root
> nouns were thematized, the remaining stems were still able to be
> distinguished solely by their endings (except for s-stems in the nominative
> singular, which I think became confused with thematic animates, e.g.
> *nebhos, *nebhes- 'cloud' < **nebhes).

The distinction between s-stems and thematic stems survived quite well;
they still were distinct classes in Classical Latin at least 3000 years
after the breakup of PIE (e.g. corpus, gen. corporis < *corpos-is).

> >Why does this point to a substratum?  It is a well-known fact that
> >learners of a foreign language have the greatest difficulty with
> >phonology (leading to accents) and syntax.  To give one example:
> >Native German speakers, when speaking English, often use
> >the perfect in situations where a native speaker of English
> >would use the simple past, but the perfect is used in German.
> >(The German perfect has a wider range of meaning than the
> >English perfect.)  So when a population switches to another
> >language, features of their old language tend to be carried over
> >into the new language in the fields of phonology and syntax
> >rather than morphology.
> There could very well have been one or more substrata in PIE; the problem
> lies in finding it.

Yes.  It remains a hypothesis.

> >Yes.  And possibly, transitive verbs agreed with both arguments,
> >as would be the typical pattern in an active-stative language.
> >The thematic vowel might be the last remnant of a 3rd person object marker.
> >
> >Jörg.
> I have also considered this.  However, there does not seem to be a clear
> pattern whereby transitive verbs are always thematic, and intransitive ones
> are always athematic.

You are right; there is no clear pattern.  The development would be

3rd person object marker > transitive marker > stem-forming element.

The stem-forming element was semantically empty and no longer
associated with transitivity.

>       For example, *gwhen- 'strike, slay, kill' is
> athematic (*gwhenmi 'I kill') but transitive.  In any case, however, there
> is a discernable pattern in the e/o alternations of the thematic vowel: the
> o alternation always occurs before a nasal.  Whether this apparent sound-
> change was conditional or not remains to be seen.  I think that either
> thematic verbs resulted from a 3rd person object marker, or that they were
> simply vocalic verb stems (i.e., ending in a true vowel, from the
> standpoint of PIE).

This is possible.

>      I certainly think that the latter is the reason for
> the contrast between thematic and athematic nouns.

Some scholars suspect an adjectival origin for thematic nouns, but that
remains speculative.


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